01 Jun How to Follow An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
By Valentine Reed-Johnson, RD, CDN, Contributing Blogger
As a dietitian I am often asked what diet I follow, or what diet I would recommend to others, and my response is always the same: the rich, flavorful Mediterranean diet. With its anti-inflammatory, heart healthy benefits; this lifestyle is not only healthful, but also enjoyable!
The average American diet consists of excessive amounts of sugar, man-made fats, and salt, all of which can eventually lead to inflammation. Prolonged inflammation has been studied and shown to increase the risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The good news is that there are anti-inflammatory foods that can help promote longevity.
The Mediterranean diet includes plentiful amounts of fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, most of which contain protective nutrients that can help promote a healthier, longer life. Specifically, omega 3’s found in fresh water fish, walnuts, and flax seeds, and Vitamin E found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, all help lower the risk for disease. Phytonutrients found in dark colorful, vegetables and fruits, both also rich in fiber, contribute to disease prevention.
We have all made the excuse that red wine is good for us, but why? Red wine has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad fat) and boost HDL (good fat) via the actions of flavonols, a phytonutrient. Wine also contains polyphenols, another phytonutrient, specifically resveratol, which helps protect the lining of the heart vessels. Overall, the benefits of wine are discussed frequently in the literature. Drinking one to two glasses of wine may be heart healthy, but excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to inflammation. Moderation is always the answer!
Check out what a sample day looks like:
- Option 1: Fruit salad with nonfat plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of crushed nuts and flax seeds
- Option 2: Two slices whole grain toast. The first topped with low fat ricotta cheese, fig, and drizzled with honey. The other topped with mashed avocado and a drizzle of walnut oil
- Nuts, seeds, and fruit
- Tuna packed in olive oil on top of a spinach salad with grilled vegetables, sprinkled with seeds. Serve with a side of whole grain rice with roasted garlic
- Hard-boiled egg, raw vegetables and hummus
- Whole wheat pasta with baked chicken and roasted vegetables drizzled with olive oil after cooking to retain the heart healthy qualities
- Fruit plate and nuts
By following a heart healthy and immune supportive diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and following an active lifestyle can help reduce the risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. A healthy weight also helps reduce insulin resistance and cell growth. Reducing stress is also essential to a healthy body. Yoga, laughter or comic relief, journaling, and support groups are all ways to help relieve stress and relax.
Many folks often say that healthy living is a lot of work, but the benefits down the road are tremendous. Consider adding these foods to your diet as it’s never too late to start eating healthy.
Valentine is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, currently working at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. At the hospital she covers general medicine floors. Eventually, Valentine hopes to open up a private practice along side her hospital position. Valentine believes in providing practical nutrition knowledge, encouraging others to think logically when it comes to their health. Follow Valentine on twitter or check out her website.